While the assembly election results in West Bengal have thrown up a surprise, as the state has given a clear mandate again for TMC against the close contest predicted by most pollsters, there were no such surprises in neighbouring Assam. The assembly election results this year have largely repeated the 2016 results, and proved the predictions right. BJP led NDA is set to return to power with around 75 seats, the Congress-led grand alliance has managed to win 47 seats. The final results may vary by few seats as the counting is going on in several constituencies. While the political pundits in the following days will analyse why voters returned NDA to power, these elections have already proved on thing, that the voters have rejected the anti-CAA agenda.
The anti-CAA agitations may see large crowds in the state, but it has been proved yet again that it has no impact on electoral politics in the state. This because, several new political parties were formed with the anti-CAA agenda as the main objective, and all those parties have performed badly.
Ahead of the assembly elections in Assam, three new political parties were formed with one common agenda, to repeal the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Leaders of two so-called student organisations, All Assam Students Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) had come together to form Asom Jatiya Parishad in September last year, with former AASU President Lurinjyoti Gogoi as the leader of the new party.
It may be mentioned that both AASU and AJYCP were also behind the formation of Asom Gana Parishad in 1985, which ruled for Assam for two terms and is now a junior partner in NDA. Both these organisations have good organisational structure in the ground level across the state, and the leaders had predicted that they will be able to achieve significate results in the polls.
The second party to be formed on anti-CAA was Raijor Dal, founded by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti chief and career protestor Akhil Gogoi. Led by the well-known leader Akhil Gogoi, KMSS is active in Assam’s politics for the last decade, which have led several agitations in the state.
The third party was Anchalik Gana Morcha, formed by former journalist and Rajya Sabha MP Ajit Kumar Bhuyan.
Anchalik Gana Morcha decided to joined the grand alliance of seven parties led by the Congress party, and it had decided to contest in one seat only. Actually the party had released a list with two seats, but later it was seen that Congress had nominated its Dispur candidate from the same constituency. Therefore, it ended up contesting from Bokakhat only.
AJP and Raijor Dal were also invited to join the grand alliance of Congress, AIUDF and the left parties, but they declined. Actually, the presence of AIUDF meant that they couldn’t join it. Because, they were opposing the CAA saying that they don’t want any foreigner to be given citizenship, which was opposite from Congress and AIUDF demand of including Muslims in the CAA. Later, Asom Jatiya Parishad and Raijor Dal had decided to form an alliance of their own, against both the NDA and grand alliance.
While there was no dent in the popularity of the NDA govt led by Sarbananda Sonowal and Himanta Biswa Sarma, some political analysts had predicted, or maybe had hoped, that these new anti-CAA parties will make significant impact on the votes of BJP. It was said that anti-CAA sentiment is very strong in the upper Assam, where both the new parties had strong presence, and they will impact the AGP votes mostly as they share the same voters.
AJP had contested in almost 70 seats, while Raijor Dal had contested in around 34. But the results today have been disappointment for both of them. Between both of the parties that had contested in around 100 seats, they have won only one seat.
AJP, which had contested the highest number of seats in the alliance, has drawn a blank. Its chief Lurinjyoti Gogoi had contested from two seats, Naharkatia and Duliajan, and he lost from both. None of the candidates in the party won, with many losing deposits.
Raijor Dal, on the other hand, own the lone seat in the alliance, as its chief Akhil Gogoi won from Sibsagar. However, it will be difficult to attribute his win to anti-CAA sentiment, as there are few other factors behind his win. The most important is the sympathy factor, as he was lodged in jail during the elections, after he was accused of instigating violence during the anti-CAA protests in 2019. However, HC had upheld his bail on 14th April, after the elections were over.
Moreover, the leftist politician Akhil Gogoi, with alleged links to the maoists is in active politics for more than a decade now, as opposed to the new leaders heading the AJP. He has one of the most visible faces in the anti-BJP camp in the state, and has considerable popularity in Sibsagar, which has a history of electing only Congress or left candidates.
The lone Anchalik Gana Morcha candidate from Bokakhat has also lost the elections against AGP president Atul Bora.
Therefore, all the parties that were formed on anti-CAA agenda couldn’t make any mark in the Assam assembly elections, as only one leader won, that too in his personal capacity.